Walk-in Covid vaccinations at Cabot Circus clinic stopped over safety concerns due to demand

Clinic now only open for pre-booked appointments - but none available for December

Bristol city centre’s main vaccination clinic has stopped offering walk-in jabs following concerns over safety due to an increase in demand.

The NHS-run Cabot Circus site was opened as a walk-in centre for people to get either their first or second vaccination dose, or a booster jab last month.

But from now on, the clinic only accepts people who have booked an appointment after many people not yet eligible for a jab had to be turned away.

The situation meant it was getting ‘unsafe’ for the shopping centre, said the clinic’s shift supervisor Heather Tyler.

Walk-in clinic at Cabot Circus where it is now booked appointments only

She said the Government announcement over planned changes to the booster programme last month had led to the situation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted all adults offered a booster by the end of January, and the age group of those eligible was dropped to those aged 40 and over.

Yet on Saturday, those under 40, unless working in healthcare or vulnerable to Covid, are still not eligible to get the jab.

Ms Tyler told BristolWorld: “When the Government announced their changes that they were going to bring in, people think those changes take place almost overnight, and they don’t.

Heather Tyler, shift supervisor at the Cabot Circus clinic, said the centre closed to walk-ins due to safety concerns

“It takes us all a long time to change those guidelines, change our protocols, and that meant we had lots of people turning up who wanted their vaccines in line with the changes that were coming in so we had to turn alot of people away, and we just felt it was getting a little bit unsafe for Cabot Circus, for our staff

“A few people were not happy, you can understand - it is a positive they want to get their boosters and they want to get their jabs, that’s really good.

“We just put the changes in place just so that we could channel the patients and the staff and the public and just bring them through safely, and it is working much better.”

But despite people now only able to pre-book appointments for the clinic, a check on the booking system on Saturday night (December 11) showed no available appointments for the rest of this month.

With the Omicron variant spreading across the country, with three confirmed cases also in Bristol, centres have seen an increase in demand as people want to get protected ahead of Christmas.

Anne Morris, chief nurse for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, urged people to be patient and said when appointments were booked up at a clinic in the region, more were being added.

And she said understood the frustration of some who had been offered appointments as far away as Devon.

She said: “Because the guidance has changed and more people have become eligible for booster doses and the time frame between doses has changed, we’ve had to reduce the walk-in offer and put more on to the national booking system so people have access to it without having to queue for a very long time.”

On people not being able to book appointments nearby, she added: “I would say, keep trying your local options, there will be something available for you.”

Since opening, the Cabot Circus clinic, open Thursday to Sunday, has been providing around 300 jabs every day.

There are still walk-in centres in the region, such as Bristol Rapid Testing Centre in St Jude’s and The Rock Community Centre in Lawrence Weston.